The Mystical City of God and The Secret of the Rosary have differing intents for the readership of their works, but they parallel and support each other in the ultimate equating of Mary as a mirror image of God. We arrived at the conclusion in class that Mary of Agreda uses The Mystical City of God to assimilate the Virgin Mary and God into a singular identity. The vivid details describing Mary, such as her newfound knowledge of human anatomy and animal taxonomy for example, vividly affirm the message that Mary is as wise as God, because God manifests to her all he knows. She is the likeness of God in many other ways, as described when Mary of Agreda says “It was eminently befitting that [Mary] should be all mercy, kindness, piety and clemency, who was herself to conceive and give birth to the Word made man, since He in His mercy, clemency and love desired to humiliate himself to the lowliness of our nature, and wished to be born of her in order to suffer for men. It is said: like begets like… (154). Just as Jesus humbles himself to the Earth, so too does young Mary humble herself to the Angel Gabriel and to God’s plan for her. Mary is remarkable because of her ability to be simultaneously humble and powerful, and this confounds Mary of Agreda who says “But what has caused the greatest wonder in me, when I considered these things in the light given to me, is the humility of this heavenly woman and the mutual contest between her humility and the divine power” (163). The notions of humility and divine power are so incongruous, that only God has the ability to possess them in coexistence. Thus because Mary successfully finds harmony within the dichotomy, she too has the strength, in addition to the wisdom and humility, of God, enhancing her likeness of him.
There are passages, some were mentioned in class, where Mary of Agreda directly conflates Mary and God. She writes “The Lord extended His powerful arm and expressly renewed the spirit and the faculties of the great Lady… It was the finishing act and the final retouching of the living image of God, in order to form, in it and of it, the very shape, into which the eternal Word, the essential image of the eternal Father and the figure of His substance was to be cast” (163). Especially with the Novena before the Incarnation, God assists Mary in every stage of her physical and spiritual growth not just to prepare her conceiving of the Word Incarnate, but to sculpt her as his image on Earth. Mary of Agreda continues; “Thus the whole temple of the most holy Mary…was covered with the purest gold of the Divinity inside and out…He provided for the greatest possible similarity between the Mother and the Father” (163). At this point historically, the symbolism of the temple as Mary is well-known, but Mary of Agreda presents a novel interpretation of it by describing the temple as God rather than containing God; in the same vein, her understanding of Mary as a mirror image of God conquers the conventional understanding that Mary contains God.
The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montefort is more didactic, and as a result has a more widespread audience given the introduction includes addresses to Priests, Sinners, Devout Souls and Little Children. The verbose and somewhat convoluted writing of Mary of Agreda contrasts with St. Louis De Montefort, who writes with simplicity often meant to be understood by commoners and youth. He retells the story of Saint Dominic who “began preaching the Holy Rosary and explained the Hail Mary word by word as he would to a group of children, and used the very simple illustrations which were in the book Our Lady had given him” (21), and she speaks directly to youth, ordering “So, dear children imitate these little girls and say your Rosary every day as they always did. If you do this you will earn the right to go to Heaven to see Jesus and Mary” (15). Thus, whereas Mary of Agreda equates Mary and God by using logic and extrapolating from the theology, de Montefort uses more accessible emotional persuasion to equate the two, with the ultimate purpose of converting readers or increasing their piety. Multiple passages throughout The Secret of the Rosary show how Mary also possesses traits that make her God’s likeness, making these writings unassumingly supportive of Mary of Agreda’s argument in The Mystical City of God. In the Fourth Rose story about Blessed Alan de la Roche, Jesus tells him “you crucified Me once before by your sins… You are crucifying Me again now because you have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach My Mother’s Rosary, and you are not doing so…” (25) and makes de la Roche feel guilty about his negligence to Mary and thus God. Jesus’ intercession here reflects his intercession of Saul in the desert, and just as Saul repents and becomes a Saint and devout follower, so too does Blessed Alan de la Roche revitalize himself and then restores the Holy Rosary. The likeness of these two stories make Jesus and Mary mirror reflections of each other, and Jesus feels crucified when people forsake either him or Mary. In addition, though Our Lady’s Psalter/The Rosary consists of prayers of the Hail Mary, de Montefort says that the three parts of it serve the purpose of honoring the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, and the Church, with no mention of its service to Mary. De Montefort is saying here that The Rosary’s verbal praise of Mary is a spiritual praise of God, and “it greatly glorifies the Most Blessed Trinity because any homage that we pay Our Lady returns inevitably to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections” (49). So although The Secret of the Rosary has a main instructive purpose (especially with the imagery throughout of followers needing to water the Garden of Marian devotion), de Montefort uses more emotional and spiritual techniques such as Biblical allusions and analysis of The Rosary to highlight an understanding of Mary as a near-perfect reflection of God, emphasizing the concept that devotion to Mary is essentially devotion to God. While the Secret of the Rosary and The Mystical City of God perpetuate the notion of Mary as God by visually describing the likeness of her image, St. Louis de Montefort’s work goes a step further in also emphasizing the likeness of Marian prayer and devotion as ultimately worship to God himself.